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Prepared remarks by Ambassador Bruce Wharton Food for Thought, American
January 16, 2013
Good day everyone!
It's really a pleasure to be here in Mutare today, after more
than 10 years away from beautiful Manicaland. Driving here just
now from Africa University, I was reminded of the unique geography
of Mutare and the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. I am repeatedly
amazed, for the second time in my life, by the diverse landscapes
and scenes that I find here in your country, and I am very honored
to have returned here, now as the U.S. Ambassador.
Let me first thank the
officials of the City of Mutare and the Turner Memorial Library
staff for both your willingness and your hard work in making this
American Corner in Mutare a special place. Without your support,
we could not reach our goals, which are to provide innovative online
resources, host programs and activities of interest to the community,
and offer educational advising services for students interested
in studying at U.S. universities.
In Zimbabwe we have these
American Corners here in Mutare, as well as in Gweru and Bulawayo,
in addition to our facilities in Harare. An American Corner is a
place where you can come and interact with America; and where you
can learn more about our culture, values, and history. Be it through
books or online, you can use this Corner to satisfy whatever interests
you have - personal, academic, or professional.
When you come here, you'll
be greeted by Lucy Chiduku, as I was today. I'd like to thank
her, and our partners from EducationUSA. The work you do in advising
students as they pursue their educational dreams is phenomenal,
and I am thrilled to see it happening here to Mutare. Thank you
Lucy; we'll be seeing a lot of each other - and I hope
you'll be seeing a lot of the faces here today in the AC more
often from now on.
Finally, I'd like
to recognize Sibusisiwe Mukwakwami, our Corner intern, who incidentally
was the winner of the 2012 Black History Month Essay Contest and
who is a part of the U.S. Student Achievers Program, or USAP. USAP
is administered by the U.S. Embassy to assist low income but high
achieving students, like Sibu, to find academic placements and scholarships
to study in the U.S. We hope that Sibu will soon receive good news
and become one of roughly 1,400 Zimbabwean students presently enrolled
at various accredited colleges and universities in the U.S. I also
look forward to watching that number grow as a result of this Corner.
So already, by stepping
into this location with me today, you better understand some of
our goals in Zimbabwe with regard to improving access of information
for the young people - and really all people - in Zimbabwe.
So, with that introduction,
I would like to speak with you, citizens of Manicaland, a province
full of riches, about your hopes are for the future. I'd like
to take this opportunity, on my first visit to Mutare as Ambassador,
to meet you and to spend some time listening to you. I'd like
to learn more about your interests, your concerns, and your hopes
for your hometowns in 2013. I would like to know what has changed
here since I last visited in 2003. I know Manicaland as rich in
minerals, mountains, agriculture, and education, with peaceful and
hardworking people, but I'd love to know how you see yourselves
and how we might build our relationship together moving forward.
Let me start, then, by
telling you a little about me, and about my job as Ambassador. I
was raised in a home full of stories about, and respect for, the
people of Africa - a legacy of my grandparents' 35 years
as missionaries in what was then the Belgian Congo. My wife and
I raised three children in Southern Africa during Foreign Service
assignments in South Africa and Zimbabwe, making the reality of
returning to lead a U.S. Mission a privilege that is full of personal
as well as professional meaning.
Ultimately, you know
that I am here representing President Obama and working to build
bilateral relations with Zimbabwe. With full recognition of the
complex challenges Zimbabwe faces, I remain optimistic about the
country's future and believe that the United States has an
important role to play in helping the people of Zimbabwe build a
just, free and prosperous nation. The trajectory of Zimbabwe's
last 15 years should not obscure the nation's tremendous potential.
In addition to my government's primary policy interests of
supporting strong democratic institutions, sustainable economic
growth, regional security, and expanding opportunities for people
and communities, I am also personally interested in supporting women's
empowerment, education, conservation, freedom of expression, and
the rights of all people.
The United States has
shown its deep and abiding concern for Zimbabwe through the nearly
one billion dollars in humanitarian relief and health-related assistance
we have provided just in the last six years. There is no more explicit
expression of our support for the people of Zimbabwe than our standing
by them through their times of greatest need.
The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe
is active in supporting programs in health, agriculture, business,
culture, and civil society sectors. We provide ongoing support to
the Zimbabwean Parliament and constitution-making process; and we
have invested heavily in the health and food security sectors. The
U.S. also promotes business linkages, encouraging American investors
to look closely at Zimbabwe's educated labor force and long-term
Let me point out a few
of the programs that we have specific to Manicaland. In the health
sector, for example, we are actively addressing HIV and AIDS. This
year the U.S. government will provide over $90 million toward national
efforts to address this disease. Specifically, we support the Ministry
of Health and Child Welfare by providing prevention of mother-to-child-transmission
services at all health facilities, including the training of health
workers. Tomorrow, I will visit Sakubva District Hospital to see
the USAID Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) in
action. The Kangaroo Mother Care project focuses on low birth weight
and premature babies who are at much higher risk of death or illness
than heavier babies or babies born at term.
Also in the health field
in Manicaland, the U.S. supports a number of Voluntary Testing and
Counseling sites and post-test counseling services for people living
with HIV/AIDS. These sites screen for TB, test CD4 counts, and provide
family planning support. We are working with the Ministry to scale
up male circumcision activities in Manicaland, to provide both male
and female condoms through both public and private sector outlets,
and to support the procurement and distribution of anti-retroviral
drugs through the national system.
U.S. health experts are
1) Tuberculosis, by training
health workers on TB screening and management;
2) Starting next month, we will begin providing outreach family
planning services; and
3) we are fighting Malaria, by distributing insecticide treated
bednets and supporting the Ministry to improve case management and
treatment of malaria at a community level. As you can see, we share
many values and concerns - demonstrated through the prioritized
programming on family health.
The U.S. embassy also
supports economic growth programs. This is one of our Mission's
top goals in Zimbabwe, including in Manicaland. For example, the
USAID Zimbabwe Livestock Development Project is working in nine
Milk Collection Centres (MCCs) in Manicaland. The project assists
547 households, of which 131 are female headed. USAID has distributed
221 dairy heifers through the nine Centres. Repayments are being
used to purchase and distribute additional dairy heifers. In 2012,
we supported the farmers to produce about 505,000 liters of milk,
allowing household income from milk sales via these Centres to reach
an average of $1,872 per year. I visited this project yesterday
and was very excited to see the enthusiasm on the part of the farmers,
and to imagine the prospects for people who just needed a little
help to improve their lives, and their communities, dramatically.
Manicaland is a focus
area for USAID's agricultural development activities and over
the past two years we have assisted 21,000 rural households in Manicaland
to increase production of food and cash crops, and generate new
income from sales of maize, sugar beans, bananas, paprika and other
Last season, 1,400 farmers
received technical assistance and input credit in Chipinge, helping
them to produce more than a 1,000 tons of sugar beans, which they
sold for $1.13 million. That works out to be $484 of new income
In the last eighteen
months, farmers in Honde Valley and irrigation schemes in southern
Manicaland have adopted high-technology methods for banana production
including tissue cultured plants and modern irrigation systems.
They tripled their incomes from banana sales, showing that smallholders
can become efficient commercial farmers. This effort has raised
the quality and prices for their bananas and tripled sales from
$75,000 in 2011 to $283,000 in 2012.
These successful commercial
developments combined with a credit fund that has dispersed $9.5
million into the smallholder sector, have attracted new sources
of essential working capital for the agricultural sector. As a result,
production and sales of high value cash crops, such as paprika and
potato grown by Manicaland farmers, are set to double and triple
over the next few years to levels that will eliminate food insecurity
and establish agriculture as the new source of wealth creation for
I am proud to highlight
these activities and to congratulate my USAID colleagues and their
partners on these successes.
But, we need to prepare
to move beyond a relationship defined by aid. The people of Zimbabwe
are fully capable of feeding themselves, meeting the nation's
health and education needs, building a dynamic political system,
and restoring what was once one of the strongest economies in Africa.
For the past several years, Zimbabwe has gone through some tough
times. And, as you can see, the American people have been here to
help the Zimbabwean people get through them. That's what friends
do. The United States is here to help our friends get back up on
their feet so that Zimbabwe can again be a nation of economic opportunities,
of respect for the rule of law and the rights of all people. Those
are values that reflect the core of what Americans share with Zimbabweans
and that we should pursue together.
While I have named just
a few ways in which the U.S. is active in Manicaland, I'd
like to note that the U.S.'s overarching policy has not changed
since 1980 when we were the first nation to recognize Zimbabwe's
independence. We continue to work to enable Zimbabwe to become a
just, prosperous and democratic country that meets the needs of
its people, contributes to development in the region, and plays
an important role in world affairs. We will not always agree with
the government of Zimbabwe, but we will always attempt to maintain
a respectful and open dialogue.
Before I conclude, I
know that there is a lot of misinformation out there, so let me
just make a few statements in relation to the U.S.'s policies
on Zimbabwe. We remain open and willing to work with the government
of Zimbabwe to support free and fair elections. As we head into
a year of a constitutional referendum and election, let me stress
a few things:
1) The U.S. backs principles
and institutions, not individuals or parties.
2) It is not
for the U.S. or foreigners to say how Zimbabwe should govern itself
or its democratic practices. Instead, using the Zimbabwean constitution,
laws, the Global Political
Agreement, and the SADC Roadmap, Zimbabweans have agreed how
they will comport themselves. It is against those commitments that
Zimbabwe will be judged by the Zimbabwean people and friends of
Zimbabwe alike. But, in any human interaction, one's credibility
rests on maintaining one's word and one's honor. We
look to all Zimbabweans to abide by their commitments and the unbiased
rule of law as the country approaches a constitutional referendum
and elections over the coming year.
3) The U.S. and international
community - but more importantly the Zimbabwean people - look to
the government and political leaders to ensure that these processes
are credible, non-violent, and consistent with the rule of law.
4) As Secretary
Clinton said in Cape Town in August, the United States is prepared
to meet 'action for action' as Zimbabwe's leaders
honor their commitments. We support the democratic reform process
underway since the start of the Global Political Agreement and,
along with SADC and other friends of Zimbabwe, we will stand by
the people as this process reaches its conclusion. U.S. policy toward
Zimbabwe is not static and will respond positively to Zimbabwe's
progress on the roadmap to constitutional
reform and elections. As the recent experience of the U.S. Chairmanship
of the Kimberley Process as well as U.S. relations with Burma have
shown over the past year, we are prepared to recognize and respond
positively to positive - but tangible - reforms.
I am no stranger to the
fact that Zimbabwe has gone through a tough decade or more, and
the United States has taken actions over that period to put pressure
on those responsible for the decline to return the country to peace,
prosperity, and the rule of law. I also know that since 2009, the
country and economy have seen a reversal of that decline and a return
of stability. I am optimistic that the referendum and elections
in the coming year will solidify Zimbabwe's renaissance.
In conclusion, for those
of you who I am meeting for the first time, I am all of the things
that were noted in my bio - an Ambassador, a husband, a father
- but I am also, I like to think, a good listener. I will
begin my term here by listening and learning about the goals of
the Zimbabwean people, and how the U.S. can be a good partner. I
recognize your issues here are different than those of Zimbabweans
in Harare or Matabeleland, for example, and I want to make this
the first of many trips to Manicaland, so as to build a strong relationship
with you here.
Thank you. I'm
now very happy to answer your questions . . . .
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